Google Sitemaps for Newbies and Professionals

The Google Sitemaps is a new program that allows webmasters to create a sitemap of their site. Why is it worth the extra trouble? Well, partially because the website masters don’t have a choice, but also because it leads to the two things that can improve search engine ranking: it’s easier for Google to index all the pages (thus avoiding the problem of accidentally ‘skipping’ key information) and it’s easier to upload new and relevant content.

Essentially, you use the XML program. That’s easy enough for webmasters. After that, three options await–ranging from the simple and straightforward, to what we’d like to call “Challenging”.

Let’s start with challenging. Of course that’s a relative term; if you’re so comfortable wit your server and so smart you can install scripts in your sleep, then this won’t be much of a problem. You use Google’s Python Generator. You’ll need to install this, and that requires a little more technical know-how than reading “IT Management for Dummies.” How does it work? The search engine gives you a link to a generator. Download this link, and set it up on your server. While you go off and get yourself a well-deserved cup of coffee, the computer does it thing and you come back and find that your sitemap XML file has been automatically fed to Google. Once that’s done, open a Google Account so you can follow your sitemap’s progress and read any diagnostic data. Or, alternatively, you can sign in using your accounts for GMail and Google Alerts.

Not too keen on Python Generator? Not a problem. Use is a PHP Code Generator. This program spiders your site, then takes charge of developing the XML sitemap file. Cool–it does everything for you! Except you’ll have to have a basic understanding of PHP files and scripts, or you’ll be lost. Not something for the average Joe (or Jane) who just wants to make a personal website, but relatively simple for professional webmasters or a particularly smart weekend tekkie.

If you think Python Generator and PHP are way too complex, or just too complicated, don’t panic. You still have plenty of options–the numerous free online generators that are all over the web, ready to rescue you from the hassles of XML sitemaps. Google itself keeps a directory of these third party suppliers (for lack of a better word), so just visit its website or Google them yourself.

One such option that is provided by XML-Sitemaps requires minimal supervision. Click it, and let it spider your site and index as many as 500 pages into a handy sitemap XML file. (Although, if you really do have 500 pages, it may be a good idea to get a webmaster–that’s a lot of content to handle on your own. Then you can make him worry about the XML sitemaps for you.)

Once the sitemap is generated, these programs will also let you download files and make minor changes. Another advantage: you can establish the priority of the pages, indicate the kind of frequency you want and adjust it accordingly, and other nifty features that give you more control over your website. If you are doing daily updates, however, you should use PHP or Python Generator.

Upload the file to your website, tell Google Sitemaps that you’ve “done the deed”, and let the hits come.

XML-Sitemaps.com provides a free online Google Sitemaps generator which will also help you find and fix broken links.

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